Guardant Health (GH -1.40%) creates blood tests that inform oncologists of possible treatment options for cancer. It also offers a battery of testing that can alert clinicians to disease recurrence. This is commonly referred to as a liquid biopsy, a blood draw that could potentially replace invasive surgical biopsies.
When cancer survivors are screened for recurrence, the results of this blood draw could mean holding off on the adverse effects of chemotherapy when there is no evidence of disease present. Or the test results could mean having to restart powerful treatment when there is early evidence of recurrence that might not have necessarily shown up with imaging or a surgical biopsy.
So this high-resolution surveillance from the company's blood tests are prolonging and saving lives -- and it's a growing market.
As you can see, the liquid biopsy market is estimated to nearly triple by 2030 to $26.2 billion. This is roughly in line with Guardant's estimates of its addressable markets, which value the oncology drug selection and optimization market at $10 billion, with the recurrence monitoring market to be north of $20 billion. But this healthcare company believes there is a vast untapped market for screening the general population for cancer as well, which Guardant estimates is worth more than $50 billion.
While there are guideline-recommended screenings for colorectal cancer and lung cancer, the number of patients who undergo such testing is lagging: 66% and 14%, respectively.
A high-performance blood test that could be added on as a part of a routine patient evaluation in the primary-care setting -- rather than, say, having to undergo a colonoscopy prep -- could help improve screening rates. Especially for patients who might not do well with sedation, or who are hesitant to undergo an invasive colonoscopy. Combine all of these elements, and the company could help save lives by way of early detection.
Stick with this industry leader
When you have a growing industry, it's best to look at which companies are at the forefront of innovation. There might be stiff competition from Exact Sciences, Illumina's Grail, and Roche's Foundation Medicine, but Guardant has consistently been a step or two ahead.
This relative newcomer launched the first blood-only recurrence-monitoring assay. It claims to have the first comprehensive liquid biopsy to receive Food and Drug Administration approval. And Guardant produced the first blood-only liquid biopsy to monitor therapeutic response to cancer treatment. So while it's hard to bet against the previously mentioned heavyweights, Guardant continues to post success after success and is still the first mover in this growing industry.
Reducing friction, saving lives
The company is making it easier for patients and clinicians, reducing pain points along the way. When it comes to relapse screening, blood testing can be performed almost eight weeks ahead of the time to obtain a routine screening CT scan.
Compared to tissue-based testing -- like an actual biopsy either in the hospital or in the office -- results of Guardant's blood test are received by clinicians in a week to 10 days compared to four to eight weeks with tissue-based methods.
Not to mention that the list of positive data is growing. At a recent conference, the company presented a report showing that utilizing its Guardant360 Response test doubled progression-free survival (time during and after treatment where the patient's condition doesn't worsen) for a subset of breast cancer patients. If positive data continues, this biomarker market will likely only continue to gain traction.
Another point of friction is a clinician's ability to order its tests. Guardant recently unveiled a partnership with the most widely used electronic health record (EHR) in the U.S., Epic. By integrating into this EHR, its tests can now be more easily ordered for the more than 250 million patients who have a record within Epic. Rather than having to spend more time filling out additional paperwork or separate order forms, with a more streamlined ordering process for busy healthcare providers, Guardant will likely only reap rewards.
Guardant is guiding for $460 million to $470 million in revenue this year, a 23% to 26% increase from 2021. With its record of innovation in its field, coupled with a growing market and a share price that's down nearly 65% from its February 2021 all-time high, investing today could yield big rewards.